Connecting with China

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Every two years, students of Hawkesdale P12 College and parents are offered the opportunity to visit China. Mandarin Chinese is the second language taught. Approximately 10 days are spent in China, including four nights spent at our sister school, Beijing no. 27 Middle School,  several nights in Xian and the final days spent in Shanghai. Students stay with Chinese host families in their homes. in Beijing.

Social media enables the students to stay in touch with their families and friends back in Australia, and to stay in touch with their host families once they leave Beijing. It is essential to be able to contact the tour guides that accompany the group during the daytime.

Wechat is the biggest communication tool used in China and is used for everything including as a mobile payment app. Before the students and parents left, we tried to setup their mobile phones with the app but had all sorts of trouble activating the app. As it was nearly time to leave, it was decided to find another app. However, this is difficult as facebook, snapchat, blogs etc are all blocked when in China. A VPN is required to access them, but these are not technically legal, they can be blocked at any time and it would not be socially responsible for us to use a VPN whilst there.

Skype was suggested but we needed to find out whether it required a VPN. Fortunately, through Skype in the Classroom network, the names of two Skype Master teachers who work in China were provided. These teachers assured me that a VPN was not required. Students downloaded the Skype app and were added to a group that included the teachers attending and family members.

It has worked really well, with daily schedules posted, lots of pictures shared of what everyone has been up to, videos, questions and generally maintaining contact, especially when students were staying with their host families. It meant that the people back home could ‘live’ the experience with them and I could share many of the photos and videos with my students as they were shared. Skype was used to connect classes back at Hawkesdale with the students in Beijing and the calls could be recorded for future use in the Chinese classroom

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International Dot Day

September 15th was International Dot Day. The ISTE Global Collaboration PLN, of which I am also a member. It was decided that the #ISTEGlobalPLN would create a project for this day to engage our members and other educators. Sean Forde, one of our lPLN leadership team set up a Dot Day wakelet for participants to add their dots. It is still not too late to add yours. Peter Reynolds, the author of the Dot, created a beautiful Dot to start us off.

Here is what it looked like in my classes

  • We do not have the book, so we watched the story on youtube.
  • As it is during my ICT classes, computers had to be used to draw the dots
  • Most students chose to use MS Paint with some having access to Paint 3D
  • They were encouraged to share a little of Australian culture in their dots as it was a global project
  • All dots were collated into a Powerpoint presentation and then uploaded to slideshare.
  • The link to the slideshares were added to Wakelet and this created an efficient and effective way of sharing more than 40 dots. (Rather than have them just listed under one another).

Did you get involved in International Dot Day? What did you do?


Videoconference with Brazil


This morning we connected with Athalo and his class from Brazil. His students, who speak Portuguese as their first language shared some presentations with us on the following topics about their country:

  1. History
  2. Festivals
  3. Sport
  4. Food
  5. Their town
  6. Tourist attractions


Zoom was used to connect us and screen sharing enabled them to share their screens with us. Students interacted with each other asking and answering questions.

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Our boys under 16.5 football team and under 16 girls’ netball team are in the Grand Final tomorrow. To help celebrate this big event, students in our school came dressed in blue and gold (the colours of the Hawkesdale Macarthur Football/Netball teams). A special pancake breakfast preceded school.

We could show the Brazilian students the pancakes and the footy team uniforms. This added extra interest! Athalo prepared a kahoot on Brazil for us to play at the end of the lesson.

See student blog posts on the connection

  1. Lachlan Linkup in Zoom with Brazil
  2. Bayley Linkup with Brazil2
  3. Dwight Zoom linkup with Brazil
  4. Olivia Video Call with Brazil



GVCM #1803 Results

In April to June this year, year 9 and 10 ICT elective students participated in a collaborative global project through the Global Virtual Classroom (GVC #1803). Schools from India – Veda Vyasa DAV Public School and Kaohsiung Municipal Kaohsiung Senior High School   – Taiwan were part of our collaborative team.

It was exciting to read an email from the organisers to say that our project, The Green Steps had won a silver award.  Our project looked at protecting and  keeping our planet green.

There is so much learning to be made when we collaborate with other countries, especially those who do not speak English as a second language. Thanks to GVCM for making these projects available and well done to the teachers and students involved.


Virtual Tour with an Aquanaut


An opportunity arose for the students in our school, to participate in a virtual field trip with an Aquanaut, based in an undersea laboratory near Florida, USA – the Aquarius Reef Base, using Skype. This is one of only 3 undersea laboratories dedicated to education and science in the world. A group Skype call allowed classes and students from Asia, Pacifica and USA to connect. As it was a late afternoon call from Florida, it was our first lesson of the day. Usually Australian time zones are difficult to cater for.  Our years 4 to 7 went to the library to view the linkup.

Some of the group participants from other countries

It was another amazing experience, learning from an Aquanaut, watching his tour in real time, viewing the cramped conditions, facilities and gear, and even seeing sealife swimming outside the window as he took the camera up to the window. We got a ‘real life view’ of what life in the laboratory is like.

We were all given an opportunity to ask questions. At first, we had difficulty seeing his image and tour but despite that students were highly engaged just listening. Then the full image projected on our screens which made it more special.

Read what students have posted to discover some of their learning and opinions. They have written blog posts on the connection.

What a fabulous opportunity this was for us.

We could even see the fish swimming outside their windows





#ISTE19 presentation: Best Tools for Global Collaboration

This was the title of one of #ISTEGlobalPLN’s Sessions at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia in 2019. Amy Jambor, Amanda Lanicek and I led the interactive lecture. As our favourite tools differ a little, we each spoke on some of our favourite tools.  See our actual presentation.

Tools and Technology used during the presentation:-

  • Google slides – for the three presenters to collaborate and remotely add slides for the presentation.
  • Skype to bring in Amy, our virtual presenter and to model what videoconferencing looks like in a global collaborative environment. (We chose Skype over Googlehangouts, which was used last year, as the virtual presenter could not share their screen with the participants. However, as Amy was using a Macintosh computer, she could not share it using Skype)
  • Periscope – Margaret Atkinson recorded the session using Periscope which brought in participants who were #notatiste19. Some remote participants  participated in the live twitter chat answering the questions posed and added to the answergarden. #passthescope See the video of our presentation in 2 instalments: – Instalment 1 and Instalment 2
  • Answer garden – interactivity – allowing all attendees to add and share their favourite tools. See the resultant answergarden
  • Twitter – used for participants to introduce themselves and answer a number of questions. (We ran out of time to ask the last few questions). The hashtag #isteglobalpln was used

We had a couple of spontaneous presenters who came in off the floor and out of the Trade Exhibit Hall including Margaret Atkinson and Henry Platten, founder of GoBubble Henry is an ex-policeman who has created this Facebook like social media platform for younger children in a safe environment.



Best Tools for Global Collaboration

The above is the title of one of our presentations at ISTE 2019. #iste19

What are your favourite tools? Please add your answer in the garden below:-

Go to AnswerGarden


Go to AnswerGarden